Much flag waving occurs during the Fourth of July period, but a local veteran believes Old Glory deserves better when ones that are dirty or worn are displayed.
“I travel quite a lot in the greater Mount Airy area and I have seen many issues with flying the flag properly,” explained Ray Floyd of Jenkinstown Road, Dobson.
“Many people have no idea,” Floyd added regarding flag etiquette as spelled out in Public Law 94-344, the U.S. Flag Code.
As a former military member who served in the U.S. Army during the early 1970s, Floyd is passionate about the treatment of the banner symbolizing America which he believes to be the most attractive flag of any nation on Earth.
This is an ongoing concern for Floyd, especially during patriotic holidays, including the veteran noting before Memorial Day 2021 that “from private owners to county buildings the lack of respect shown to the U.S. flag is very embarrassing to the people of this country.”
That passion has been rekindled with the celebration of Independence Day, coinciding with Floyd releasing guidelines for citizens to show respect for the stars and stripes.
This includes a section in the U.S. Flag Code dictating that a flag should be destroyed “when it is in such condition that it is no longer a fitting emblem of display.”
That can mean becoming tattered, torn, overly worn or sun-bleached.
Floyd says designated disposal sites are located in Mount Airy and White Plains.
A flag that is worn, torn, faded or in some form of disrepair should never be displayed, under the guidelines.
One should always make sure a flag is serviceable before flying, and when unserviceable given due respect by disposing of it properly and acquiring a new flag.
A flag shouldn’t be subject to weather damage — not displayed during rain, snow and wind storms unless an all-weather flag is involved.
Citizens are encouraged to fly it often, but especially on national and state holidays and special occasions. A flag should be positioned on or near the main building of public institutions, schools when classes are in session and polling places on election days.
Guildelines further call for the flag to be hoisted briskly and lowered ceremoniously.
The suggested honorable way to destroy an unserviceable flag is by burning through a procedure that pays respect to it, according to the information provided by the local veteran.
If fire is not an option, a flag can be buried or shredded.
Recommendations call for using scissors to carefully and methodically separate the 13 stripes while leaving the blue star-spangled section intact.
Then the pieces should be placed in a wooden box and buried, accompanied by a short “funeral” ceremony in which the Pledge of Allegiance or other respectful words are recited.
The prescribed procedure for burning a flag includes:
• Folding it in a customary triangle manner;
• Preparing a fire large enough to burn the flag completely;
• Placing the flag in the fire;
• While it burns, witnesses should recite the Pledge or salute.
• The ceremony should be ended with a moment of silence before burying the flag’s ashes.
Floyd also listed two locations in the greater Mount Airy area that accept unserviceable flags as sanctioned by the American Legion and Veterans of Foreign Wars.
Veterans Memorial Park on West Lebanon Street in Mount Airy has a flag-burning pit with instructions which is open to the public.
That flag-retirement facility was developed in 2021 by Boy Scout Noah Reece for his Eagle project.
Boy Scout Troop 553 at White Plains also will accept unserviceable flags for proper disposal.